Thirty-two Taliban insurgents and three Afghan soldiers were killed in fighting between security forces and militants in southern Afghanistan, a local government official told CNN Thursday.
The violence took place on Wednesday in the Khushal Khan village of Nad Ali district in Helmand province, said the provincial governor's spokesman, Dawood Ahmadi.
The district is where the U.S. Marines are cranking up plans for a major operation against the insurgency, a push targeting a swath of territory considered the last major stronghold of the Taliban in Helmand province.
The Wednesday flareup in Khushal Khan occurred during an Afghan-NATO-led joint operation. Along with the deaths, three Afghan soldiers and a soldier from NATO's International Security Assistance Force were injured.
The Marines plan to launch a big push on Marjah, a town with 80,000 to 100,000 people in the Nad Ali district, considered to be under Taliban control. The insurgency there has influence stretching to Pakistan and the bordering provinces of Nimruz and Farah.
The Marine-led operation will "alter the ecosystem of this area significantly," Col. George Amland, the deputy commander of Task Force Leatherneck, told reporters at a briefing Wednesday.
Amland didn't say when the operation will start, but indicated it will be soon. He noted that the backbone of the force will be made up of some of the 30,000 additional U.S. troops being sent to Afghanistan by President Barack Obama and will include a large contingent of Afghan security forces.
The push will follow other big operations in Helmand - Cobra's Anger in December and Khanjar last summer.
CNN's Matiullah Mati contributed to this report